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Jan 9, 2010 05:43 PM

January/February Crawfish in Houston?

I've been living in Houston for about three years and someone introduced me to crawfish last year and I am HOOKED... heartbroken when the season ended...

Does anyone know where I can get crawfish in Houston this early? I know a lot of places still serve the frozen ones, and that's no good. I've also heard that Sam's Boat has some already... any other places you all might suggest?

Thanks! :)

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  1. Call the Boiling Crab and see if they have them in yet. If so, you need to try them there. I know they've been overhyped, but it's for real. I used to get my first of the season fix at Magnolia on Richmond, but the version they serve at the BC is worth the wait.

    1. Dear umiuo,

      The crawfish season is just getting started and I'm not sure what restaurants in Houston will be serving boiled crawfish in January. The cold snap will certainly reduce catches until warmer weather returns

      You may have noticed during the LSU-Arkansas football game at the end of November that Todd Blackledge did a feature on Louisiana boiled crawfish. For an interesting account of that ESPN feature and a report on Louisiana crawfish, please follow the link provided:

      Louisiana crawfish will be flowing into Houston very soon.

      Sam Irwin
      Media Relations
      Louisiana Crawfish Promotion and Research Board

      5 Replies
      1. re: Sam Irwin

        Thanks for the reply. Do you, or anyone else, have some suggestions on boiiling a small amount, say 5 pounds, at home? I have trouble getting them spicy enough.

        1. re: James Cristinian


          You probably would be better off asking this on the Home Cooking Board. One thing you could try is to cook/boil some spicy sausage before you add the crawfish. If you post on the HC board I will give you a link for Prudhommes way with a shrimp or crawfish boil, or you can look it up!

          Like the OP, I am also hooked on boiled crawfish! I'm not crazy about the little ones, but if that is all that is offered, then that's okay! Largest ones I have ever had were at Woodrow's, but it was in late May, and they looked like mini lobsters. One food blogger went to Cajun Corner maybe more than a month ago. Said they were a bit small but really good!

          1. re: danhole

            Dani, thanks. I have a theory about smaller to medium sized crawfish, based on fish head size. Follow along, there is a ratio of meat to head size among the big three inshore game fish. A redfish has a large head and is about a 25% head to meat, a trout less, and a flounder less than 10%. To me, although I love them, I think there is a higher head to tail meat ratio on the big ones, and on the smaller ones, you get more meat for your money, although you have to "work" harder for it. As for Woodrow's, I loved their crawfish, but will not set foot in them due to generally poor service, disasterous on one occasion, and downright belligerent on another. This must have been at least seven years ago, but they pissed me off so bad I'll never go back, and this from an easy going, foregiving guy.

            1. re: James Cristinian

              I get the head to tail ratio, and it makes sense, but I am such a clutz at peeling the crawfish that it is a LOT of work to eat the little ones. I get really proficient at getting the meat out right around the time that the season is ready to end! No someone has said that the meat is sweeter in the little ones, but I'm not sure if that is true.

              Got an email from Magnolia Grill (?) that said they are serving crawfish now, but I have never had them there, so don't know anything except that I always thought they were a bit expensive in comparison to other places.

              I was going to fuss at you for not giving Woodrow's another chance, but I am guilty of holding a grudge against a restaurant. Went to Pappas Bros. Steakhouse over 10 years ago, and we were treated like dirt. Will never go back, or recommend that place. So, I get it! And I am pretty forgiving as well.

              1. re: danhole

                Dani, I haven't had Magnolia's in a few years, but if my memory is correct, they were very salty from a lot of the seasoning being on the outside. I usually go to Mardi Gras grill. Crawfish are like bbq, different strokes for different folks. Another place I really like is Bayou City Seafood located right next door to our friend from another post, Luling City Market.

      2. If you do find some, they're likely gonna be smaller than when the season is in full swing. Boiling Crab's not bad, little pricier though. I prefer going to the any of the places inside HK City Mall's foodcourt or Big Woodrow's on Chimney Rock.

        3 Replies
        1. re: air

          Start checking with The Hideaway on Dunvale (3122 Dunvale). They should start carrying crawfish really, really soon! They do a great job on cooking them and always at a reasonable price!

          1. re: stwilhelm

            BIg Woodrow's has had them since at least mid December. Mixed in size. Some of them were good size.

            1. re: TexasJeep

              Quite a few customers were having crawfish at Rajin Cajun when I was in last week. I don't know if they were frozen or not although they did look suspiciously large. $19.99 for 3.5lb, $11.99 for 1.75lb.

        2. I get mine at Willie's because it is convenient to my house. Boudreaux's are very good too but they only serve them at night. They used to have them all day and I could eat them at lunch but they changed that so you could check with them. Hopefully they will once again bring them back to the lunch menu. I prefer Boudreaux's but Willie's have been consistently good. I don't much like anything else at Willie's though. I always call before I go.

          If you want to cook them, you have to purchase them live. It may be hard to find someone willing to sell you 5# as they usually sell them in 100# sacks.

          I hear Floyd's are good too and hope to try them this year. I have never liked anything at Rajin Cajun. They don't spice the food well and overcompensate with heat. So it's just hot with no flavor.

          2 Replies
          1. re: texasredtop

            I've had no problem buying any amount i want, including five pounds, at the seafood markets in Seabrook The standard size sack is 40 pounds I believe, but they usually have sacks open with the different sizes ready for purchase in any quantity.

            1. re: James Cristinian

              I've never tried down there for crawfish. Thanks for that info. I don't care much about doing them myself if I can find somewhere where I can get them once a week and they are good.

          2. I've tried lots of restaurants/bars in the Houston area and the BEST is in Deer Park (near Pasadena/225). It's called Guidry's Cruisin Cajun Crawfish. Perfect size, you can order mild, spicy, extra spicy. Most importantly - they don't charge you a ridiculous amount of money like Ragin Cajun.

            25 Replies
            1. re: latnchic

              Hmmm, i would be scared of any place that boiled crawfish mild spicy or extra spicy, are they putting seasoning on after they boil them? Or do they soak for different lengths of time? I have never seen anyplace do different degrees of spicy on crawfish.

              1. re: roro1831

                I think they have separate pots for the different degrees of heat.

                1. re: roro1831

                  There is more than one place, that I have had crawfish at, that offers different heat levels, and it is not just sprinkled on. At SRO's (NW Mall) they have 4 levels, from mild to a** burning hot. Good stuff! I always call ahead and ask about the size of the bugs first, though, and they are very honest with me. They must soak them, and the hot is very hot. Can't imagine what the next level up would be!

                  1. re: danhole

                    I've never heard of "soaking" them. Would you soak them live? Wouldn't that pretty much kill them? I don't much care for sprinkle on, I want my seasoning in the water with the bugs and other goodies.

                    1. re: texasredtop

                      Well, when you say that you like the seasoning in the water, I think that is the equivalent to "soaking" them. I agree that soaking them while alive would kill them! I saw Chef Prudhomme do a shrimp boil, and said you could do the same for crawfish, and he added the hot stuff in layers to get the right amount of heat, explaining how to make it hotter or milder. Geez . . . should have taped that episode! And, like you, I don't really like the sprinkle on seasonings. That seems like a "shortcut", if you know what I mean. ;-)

                      1. re: danhole

                        When you boil crawfish you season the water heavily, or obviously in some places in Houston to varying degrees. When I boil I bring the water, seasoning and all the vegetables to a rolling boil for 30 minutes. Then you add you crawfish and bring back to a boil. Cut the fire and then let soak for 30 minutes.

                        1. re: roro1831

                          Yeah, but obviously there are places that do it different and those are not the places that I return to. I like lots and lots of fresh lemons in my crawfish seasoning and I like to use a little of the liquid crab boil AND the bags of dry seasonings. I rarely cook them at home though. Can't even remember the last time I did, maybe 6-7 years ago. Too much mess unless you cook them the day before garbage pickup :-)

                          1. re: texasredtop

                            True, and when I cook them at home I do at least a sack (35-50 pounds depending). I used to do some private parties where we would boil anywhere from a couple a hundred pounds to as much as 3000 pounds in Chicago over two days. It helps to have a rig that can do 600 pounds at a pop and another that can do 1000.
                            I know of places that boil them with little or no seasoning in the water, then put them in ice chests to steam and put seasoning on top of that.
                            I use Zatarains liquid crab boil, Zatarains powder, lemon juice from the bottle, lots of fresh lemons, garlic, red potatoes, onions, corn, celery, mushrooms, sausage and any other veggie that can absorb the seasoning (artichokes, cauliflower, but that comes out really spicy)

                            1. re: roro1831

                              I use Zatarains also, liquid and powder. I use the liquid for other dishes like red beans or etouffee. Just a drop goes a long long way. My sister puts eggs in her crawfish boil. I hate eggs so I couldn't personally recommend them but they love them cooked with the crawfish.

                        2. re: danhole

                          I've never heard of soaking them. Just prepare the water with all of things you like in the way of seasonings, when it comes to a boil, throw those bugs in there. When the phrase soaking them is used, I picture them sitting in room temperature water for a few hours before they are cooked.

                          I've eaten crawfish at Baytown Seafood Co and the ONLY spice they have is the sprinkled on after-the-fact kind. That's why I don't eat them there. Put the dang seasoning in the water!!!!! I ate at Paul Deen's buffet in Tunica last week and the boiled shrimp were tasteless and there was liquid crab boil added to the drawn butter. WHAT??? Now mind you, had they seasoned the shrimp some during cooking and put just a touch of the liquid crab boil in the butter, it may have been passable but there was like half and half crab boil/drawn butter and tasteless shrimp. Ugh!!!

                          1. re: texasredtop

                            If you don't soak them you get flavorless crawfish, and not cooked thoroughly making them tough to come out the shell, and then sucking the head wouldn't be as good either, hence the soaking. 30 minutes is just a guideline, depending on the size and time of the season it may take a little less or a little longer. When soaking I pull a couple every 5 minutes or so and taste them to see how they are coming along.

                  2. re: latnchic

                    I live just a mile or so from there and do not like it at all. They are dried out because they split the shells before boiling them. They taste dry and overdone. They are nicely spiced but somehow taste flat. I'm talking about both the shrimp and the crawfish. I drive over to Willie's for my crawfish and they are always good. I've tried them all over the DP/Pasadena area and the only ones I'll eat are Willie's and Boudreaux's.

                    1. re: texasredtop

                      Where is Willie's? The only Willie's I know of is Willie's Icehouse.

                      1. re: danhole

                        That's the one. They're all over. I don't eat anything else there, I don't care for their food much at all. But their crawfish have always been just right. I eat at the one in Pasadena. Here are the other locations:

                        I'd assume they were all about the same but I've only tried the one closest to me. I've had them there about 20 times at least and each time they are cooked very nicely. They come out of the shell nicely when tugged on with your teeth slightly. They have a dry seasoning you can sprinkle on if you want more heat. Ask them to give you the container and put it on yourself. I like to taste the crawfish myself so I don't want a lot of heat. I like spicy but when the heat overpowers everything else, I'm not happy. There's are just right for me without the spice or with just a little. I can drink tobasco if I want heat. I'm looking for flavor.

                        My stepdaughter eats at one of the other ones across town and she says their boiled crawfish are good too. She always lets me know when the big ones come in so I can run and get some.

                        1. re: texasredtop

                          We have been to Fajita Willie's but never the Willie's Icehouse. We have eaten FJ's since the beginning, back in the early '80s. It was close to our home and they actually delivered back then. The Willie's close to us is off of 290, as is FJ's. I'm going to have to try the crawfish sometimes. Do they have it all season? I do get the emails, but because of the reg. menu, never thought to try them. Thanks for the tip!

                          1. re: danhole

                            Let me know when you do try them. I've never had a complaint about their crawfish and I do admire consistency. I ask them not to put the sprinkle seasoning on them because sometimes they just glop it in one spot so I ask them to bring me the container and let me do it as I wish. It's never been a problem. They serve it with potatoes and corn. Or you can get the crawfish, shrimp, sausage, potatoes and corn. I think it's a special they offer sometimes. I just prefer the crawfish and lots of them.

                            They normally do have them all of crawfish season. I always call to make sure the one I visit has them because I don't eat anything else there.

                            1. re: danhole

                              Dani, because of the regular menu , you never thought to try them. That is one scary looking menu. I envision the nachos to be the pile everything on in a gloopy mess instead of individual ones, but I could be wrong. They have "hand breaded" on everything except the chicken fried steak. Fish of the day, I'm guessing tilapia or catfish. I also don't trust a place that sells seafood but no oysters. Call me paranoid. I'll stick to Mardi Gras Grill where I can have the best fried oysters I've tried plus great crawfish. What is FJ's?

                              1. re: James Cristinian

                                OOPS! Should have put FW's instead of FJ's, meaning Fajita Willie's. It was the first of the local chain. James, you are right about WIllie's regular menu. Not too appealing, but I will try the crawfish at least once! The last time I had crawfish at Mardi Gras I wasn't very happy with them. Lots of debris and grit. But that has been a couple years back, and it was probably an off night. Mardi Gras, back when it was Floyd's, was the first place I ever had crawfish, years ago, and so it has a special place in my heart . . . I mean tummy!

                                1. re: danhole

                                  I have a friend who raves about Fajita Willie's but I've never made it there. I remember you posting about the grass in Mardi Gras' crawfish a while back, and I must admit, there is usually grass with them, but it doesn't bother me, I've never known them to be gritty, however, but I could see how the grass could be an issue for folks. Here's my drill, I got after the lunch rush, sit in Cherie's section with a view of the tracks, I love trains, get an appetizer portion of fried oysters, no fries, eat them until the bugs come out, and with luck, I get to see a train or two and chat with Cherie. Let's make a deal, I'll report on Mardi Gras and you give me a report of Willie's.

                                  1. re: James Cristinian

                                    James, we have been eating at Fajita Willie's for so many years, it's ridiculous! All our family birthday dinners were there when the girls lived at home, and FW's catered my daughters wedding. We used to know the guys that owned it, but they sold out shortly after getting the first stand alone restaurant. It goes up and down. For awhile I refused to eat there because the quality had gone so far downhill, and the prices had gone up. Now it is much better, and back to homemade tortillas and tender meat. Very good!

                                    The stuff we found in our crawfish was not just grass! That is okay, but there were a few things that made my daughter and I shake our heads in bewilderment! Have no idea what they were, and really wish I had a camera handy!

                                    If I can DRAG my husband out to Willie's, I'll report back. Otherwise I will have to get my crawfish loving daughter to go with me! The younger one doesn't even like to look at the things! More for us!

                                    1. re: danhole

                                      My favorite thing about the Willie's crawfish is that they are cooking with seasonings in the water and they are not overcooked or undercooked. They pop out easily with a little tug from your teeth. I hate it when I have to fight to get the meat out. And I hate places that season them after they are cooked.

                                  2. re: danhole

                                    Willie's have always been clean, no debris in the midst of the bugs. Floyd's is one place I want to try for crawfish. They have lots of things I like on their menu.

                                    Watch for Willie's coupons in the mail too. We get a $5 off $25 purchase in the mail regularly. I throw them away unless it's near crawfish season :-)

                                    1. re: texasredtop

                                      I had the crawfish at Floyd's on 1960 a couple years ago. They were just fine, but you had to pay extra to get corn and potatoes with the order, and that is just not right! They were also more expensive than a lot of places, but not really worth the extra bucks. You never know though . . . lots of crawfish places shine one day and are terrible the next. I think the best bet is to try the Floyd's in Webster, since that is the location that Floyd is at (as far as I know, or knew.) I remember him visiting table back in the day when he was on Durham. Great character of a man!

                                      1. re: danhole

                                        Guidry's charges you extra for the potatoes and corn too. By the piece at that. WHAT???? Willie's is much more reasonably priced and doesn't charge extra for potatoes and corn. Floyd's in Webster is the one I eat at. It's not my absolute favorite cajun food but it's definitely one of the better ones around town. And he serves fried frog legs too!! They are very good there. Best I've found around the Houston area. Floyd's also has a very reasonably priced lunch menu. Willie's is much more convenient for me but I will get down to Floyd's to try their crawfish. Boudreaux's crawfish are good too but they are only serving them at night and I don't eat supper so I've missed having them the last couple of years.

                                  3. re: James Cristinian

                                    My husband either gets the burgers or nachos. I've tried the nachos and they are okay. They are a huge mound of chips and fixings in a beer tray, it's a lot. I've had the fried fish and it's not bad. Their fries are awful. Fried shrimp are actually pretty decent and are the Gulf shrimp, not the yucky farm raised ones. But I eat fried shrimp from my own kitchen 95% of the time. I think FJ's is Fajita Willie's. I've never been there. I guess I missed your Mardi Gras Grill rec, gonna google hat place now.